Last week we received a call from the District Attorney’s office in Yavapai County, AZ. James Ray’s lawyer has filed a motion in court to “Restore Civil Rights and Set Aside Judgment of Guilt.” The motion states, “the crimes were designated non dangerous and nonrepetitive offenses by this court.”
It is hard to imagine that death to three people is considered non dangerous or non repetitive. So, I was once again reminded that the court is not the JUSTICE system, it is the LEGAL system and can only represent the laws that are in place to protect a person who may have been unjustly accused of a crime.
A Second Chance for James Ray?
Does Ray deserve a second chance? Should his civil rights be restored? Should he be able to publicly say, “I must be innocent of any crime since the court in Arizona has set aside my conviction and dropped all charges against me?”
I believe everyone deserves a second chance, an opportunity to rebuild their life after serving all the conditions of a conviction. However, Ray is already perpetrating the myth that what happened in Sedona was merely an “accident” and he has been the victim of injustice, “the only person in history to be held accountable for other people’s decisions.” He has been trying to erase his role in the deaths of three people since the day he left prison.
But the facts show that Ray knew what he was doing was dangerous, and proceeded anyway. He had been warned the year before that if he persisted, death would result, and he continued anyway. He heard and saw that his participants were in trouble and he did nothing to help them, not even calling 911. It is evident that Ray would “spin” this motion to declare innocence, even though the motion does not expunge the record of his crime.
Therefore, while Mr. Ray claims that “Sedona HAD to happen” so that he could teach others to overcome adversity and personal injustice, we realize he is very dangerous. Granting this motion would invite the court to further Mr. Ray’s predatory scam, participating in Ray’s delusion and “spin,” convincing consumers to believe he is the victim, not Kirby, James and Liz who were left in the dirt when Ray exited his sweat lodge ceremony on Oct. 8, 2009.
Setting a Dangerous Precedent for Self-help
On a personal level, having lost our daughter, sister, aunt, friend, this is beyond upsetting. From SEEK’s perspective, it’s also very worrying. The underlying drive of SEEK is to prevent tragedies like Sedona from happening again. We have been trying to work with professionals in the self-help industry to create more accountability and build more safety measures into this industry. What message will it send to other self-help providers who are tempted to cut corners and test the limits of their ability and their participants’ trust if James Ray’s crimes are effectively forgiven by the court?
Perhaps in a scenario where James Ray immediately recognized his role in these deaths and worked to create a more professional self-help industry, we would be more sympathetic to this motion. But he has from the very beginning tried to distance himself from his role in the deaths of his customers, and he continues to mislead people as he did before, even using this story to further his credentials as someone who has overcome suffering.
Seekers, Empower Yourselves!
This is exactly the type of arrogant manipulation that SEEK aims to warn customers of self-help about. We will update you on the status of this motion when we hear more, but for now, let this be a reminder that you can’t believe everything you hear or see. Because there are few protections for consumers of self-help, it is up to the seekers themselves to look out for their own safety. Remember to consult our red flags and empower yourself to have a safe journey!
Three people are dead as a tribute to Ray’s arrogance. He shows no remorse. He tries to blame the victims who asked for help. He does not deserve a pardon.
I think the judge got it exactly right, and like Donna Quinn I see nothing in the film that argues for special consideration for him now–on the contrary, I find disturbing that his main takeaway from this tragedy is his loss and suffering.
I think it is noteworthy that in the film while he is pretends to take responsibility for the incident, in his very next breath he blamed an assistant.